I would definitely rate some Gospel stories as PG, maybe even 14+. I vividly recall my first experience watching The Jesus Film as a kid. I held my breath as Legion came on the scene.
“Look out! Don’t get out of the boat!” I almost shouted to the disciples as I saw that hell-crazed host of a thousand demons lurking behind a bush, ready to pounce on anyone who stepped ashore (Luke 8:26-39).
But then Jesus stepped ashore and He’s not just anyone. He’s the tamer of seas. Like a thunderbolt touching ground, He strikes fear into the heart of everyone. In the disciples, it’s reverential awe at the authority of their Lord; in the demons, it’s terror of eternal torment in the abyss, and in the townsfolk, it’s fear of Jesus disturbing their comfortable lives.
Jesus had been performing miracles all over Galilee, but these people decide to miss out: “the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.” (Luke 8:37) They’d rather insulate themselves from the influence of this messianic radical from across the sea. “Preserve the predicable; play it safe.” That’s their motto. Is it ours as well?
And as a gesture of grace, Jesus turns the delivered man into a neon billboard in the center of town: “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39) Everyday they will see this man, hear his story, remember how they turned Jesus away, and hopefully, invite Jesus back to transform them as well.
It’s easy to call them fools, but I would probably have felt the same: “With one word, this prophet pacifies the lunatic we couldn’t keep shackled with chains. Then he destroys our herd of swine. What will he demand of us if we invite him into town? He could take control and change everything.” (Luke 8:26-39)
Yes, he certainly would change everything if invited.
Unlike many Christians today, the Gerasenes actually counted the cost of inviting Jesus in. They knew they couldn’t fit Jesus into their religious box. The only option was total surrender to this eradicator of demons, a pledge of loyalty to a Lord they couldn’t control. Do we take Jesus’ lordship that seriously?
What they didn’t understand was just how incredibly good Jesus is. They saw the unpredictable, untamable, and all-powerful Lord, not the Lord of all compassion who was just waiting for a chance to lavish blessing on them.
Will you renew your surrender to Jesus today? Hand Him the reins without condition? Give Him permission to change whatever He wants? Trust Him to be good?